Thirty-seven year-old Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, a prominent Texas activist who has spent most of her adult life organizing within the Latinx community, has been hellbent on facilitating change at the local and state level by empowering everyone from undocumented workers to millennials. Now with her sights fixed on winning a seat in the U.S. Senate in the 2020 election, Tzintzún Ramirez hopes to leverage the work that she’s put in as a community organizer to carry her through her first-ever run for office.
The only Latina with her hat in the ring, Tzintzún Ramirez is joining several other candidates who hope to unseat Republican Senator John Cornyn, the incumbent who will be running for his fourth term in office.
Drafted by former campaign staff of Beto O’Rourke’s, Tzintzún Ramirez is a newcomer to the political race but knows exactly what she’ll do for Texans from her national platform. “I don’t think we have a reflection of those in power that represent the Texas we are today. I think I represent those ideals and the diversity of the state, and I want Texas to be a national leader in solving the major problems that our country faces,” Tzintzún Ramirez told the Texas Tribune when she announced her candidacy. “I know how to speak to the diversity of this state.” As Cornyn’s most progressive challenger to date, she’s not watering her platform down to make herself more palatable to moderates and has instead come out in support of policies like Medicare for All that will help level the playing field for all Texans.
Beating Cornyn, she believes, will take more than simply convincing voters to cross the aisle to escape racist rhetoric and the officials who condone it. Her approach is to get new voters to the polls, a goal she’s been working toward for many years now: She’s the founder of the non-partisan Jolt Initiative, which has been up and running since Trump came into office. (She has since stepped down as president to pursue her Senatorial run.) Jolt Initiative has put an emphasis on energizing young Latinx Texans and teaching them how to make their voices heard, even before they are old enough to cast a vote.
As it stands, half of all youth under the age of 18 in the state are Latinos, which given some people the impression that it’s inevitable for Texas to become a blue state. But getting the Latinx community to turn out on Election Day to vote for their interests is not something Tzintzún Ramirez has ever taken for granted. “Some people look at Texas’ Latino population and say Texas will quickly turn blue, but I don’t believe demographics are destiny,” she told the Texas Observer in 2017. “It requires real organizing and investment in the community. You have to be committed long-term to Texas.”
At the time, while many of the media was focused on Beto’s midterm prospects, she contended that the focus should extend well beyond just one election cycle. Her foresight was spot on; with so many other candidates vying for Cornyn’s seat, it’s clear that even with Beto’s loss, her base is more energized than ever. As the daughter of a Mexican immigrant, Tzintzún Ramirez hopes to be the one to take the seat. “I am very aware of the symbolism that my race and my candidacy brings in this moment in our state and country’s history,” Tzintzún Ramirez told AP News. “At the end of the day, I think that most Texans realize our diversity is our strength, that there is nothing to be afraid of.”